Wayne Vore

Yep, that pretty much sums up the Spurs’ defensive effort against the Pistons. I think this was an effort loss. Nothing more, nothing less. Even my man Kawhi seemed like he wasn’t quite plugged in.

The tired hack of a would be scribe that calls himself Tim Varner finally decides to do a half ass post for the first time all year and he completely stole my insightful analysis of the game. Jerk! But, I’m smarter than he is so I’ll dive in a little deeper.

I think our back up point guard situation is a complete mess. Let’s take a look player by player.

Gary Neal

Ay caramba! What a funk he’s in. It looked for a minute like he would break out of it last night. He got a layup and a mid-range shot to go in and even a 3-ptr. Then reality came crashing down. You can’t make shots consistently when your fundamentals are bad. I’m positively convinced that Gary’s mechanics changed after his appendectomy at the beginning of last year. His shot is flatter and I’m pretty sure he releases it a little more to the side. Regardless, it isn’t going in and it doesn’t LOOK like it is going to go in. And that’s a huge change from his rookie year when his gorgeous shot always looked like it was going in.

When Gary isn’t making shots then his primary value as a shooting guard playing point guard has disappeared. He’s not a pick and roll playmaker and his transition ball handling really slows the team’s pace quite a bit.

Defensively, he’s just not quick footed. He’s pretty strong, he’s heady and frequently takes charges, but almost all the point guards in the league can go by him. That’s a serious problem when you have Bonner and Blair behind you.

Manu effect (how does all this change with Manu healthy): Manu’s presence won’t fix Gary’s shot, it won’t speed up the transition offense, and it won’t make Gary’s defense better. But, if Gary gets his shot back then it makes the guard pairing pretty formidable.

Nando De Colo

I think teams have scouted Nando now and he needs to adjust. The adjustment is to start making shots. Nando’s great strength is his passing. Both his ability (use of either hand, accuracy, and on the move) and vision are incredible. He’s a demon in the pick and roll, especially with Tiago. However, teams are now backing off of him as he comes around the screen and zoning up the pick. Because Nando won’t come off the pick and fire a jumper, and he doesn’t have the quickness to blow past the big doing the zoning, the pick and roll action stalls. Then the Spurs have to reset the offense with under 10 seconds to go on the shot clock. Ugh!

Defensively Nando, just like Gary, doesn’t have the foot speed to stay in front of most point guards. He’s pretty decent playing off the ball and staying in position, but isolated up top he doesn’t have a chance. Again, this is a major problem with Blair and Bonner in the back row.

Manu effect: It’s subtle, but I think Nando is a really good fit with Manu. Manu gets primary pick and roll offensive duties which allows Nando to have secondary playmaking duties. This means that Nando is catching the ball and attacking a defense that is on the move. It really allows Nando’s strength to be exposed. His vision and creativity thrive off of his ability to attack seams in the defense and make decisions on how the defense adjusts.

Patrick Mills

Last night’s game was so flat that Patty wasn’t even ready for the towel wave when Danny Green hit a 3-ptr midway through the fourth quarter.

As of right now, I think Patty is the best shooter of the bunch and he certainly isn’t shy. I also think he’s the best defender of the bunch. He has great lateral quickness, he can get up in guys and irritate them, he can stay in front of most point guards who aren’t getting a pick.

It’s Patty’s ball handling and offense running that are the problem. He’s not a pick and roll guy and he frequently goes faster than he can handle. He’s just not good at using his speed to create opportunities for others.

One thing Patty does better than all the rest is provide energy. Things happen when he’s in the game. Some good, some bad. But they happen.

Manu effect: I think Patty is the perfect fit next to Manu. He’s a great perimeter spot up shooter and he’s able to do a decent job guarding point guards. I look for this to be the pairing that gets playing time down the ending stretch of the season and into the playoffs. Or until Gary gets his shot back.

Cory Joseph

I’ve watched pieces of 3 or 4 Toros’ games in the last couple weeks. As I mentioned the other day, his shot is vastly improved. He’s hitting around 45% of his 3-ptrs, shoots a really good free throw percentage, and I’ve also seen him knocking down mid-range shots at a good clip. He’s excellent at getting the ball up the court and getting the team into its sets.

He is really playing the role of team leading point guard (though he is playing a fair amount of the 2 when Tre Kelley is in the game). The Toros run very few plays for him and a large number of his shots come at the end of the possession when the shot clock is running down.

He’s a real ball hound who rebounds well from the guard position. He’s also a very solid, if not great, defender. His foot speed is just average.

The thing I’ve noticed most is that Cory struggles to finish consistently in the paint. I’ve seen him miss an awful lot of attempts around the rim. It’s not like the D-League bigs are the most athletic and formidable guys to finish on either. He’s also not a very good pick and roll facilitator. Some of that might have to do with the guys he playing with. The Toros are not a very skilled team — the bigs are more athletes than basketball players — and they also lack good 3-pt shooters. When you don’t have guys with really good hands AND you don’t have guys to space the floor, then it is a lot easier to defend the pick and roll.

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